Five years after the derailment of a TGV during a test on the new high-speed Paris-Strasbourg line which left eleven dead in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, the families of the victims oscillate between distress and resignation. “We still have the same state of mind. November is not the best month of the year, ”euphemistically Nicolas Heury, son of Daniel Heury, who died in the accident in Eckwersheim (Bas-Rhin), 20 kilometers north of Strasbourg. “It’s a month that reminds us of a lot of things. “
He remembers with sorrow November 14, 2015 and what was to be the last test before the commissioning of the last section of the line. After a career as a controller at the SNCF, his father, retired, was asked to be a skipper. In total, 53 people, railway industry employees or guests, were seated in the train, including four children. “It was gratifying to be called. Since the existence of the TGV, there had been only 14 captains for tests. It was a consecration, in its place, no one would have refused. “
A very long instruction
But shortly after 3 p.m., at Eckwersheim, the train entered a curve at 265 km / h, very much above the 176 km / h forecast. It derailed 200 meters further, before hitting a bridge and tipping over into the Marne-Rhine canal. In addition to the 11 people who died, all adults, the other 42 travelers were injured. This disaster remains the only fatal accident involving a TGV since its commissioning in 1981. But its media coverage had been mitigated by the jihadist attacks which had bloodied the capital the day before.
The criminal investigation, carried out by the judges of the “Collective accidents” pole of the Paris court, continues. “Given the complexity of the file, we are still within a reasonable time,” said Nicolas Heury’s lawyer, Claude Lienard. “It is a complex file, we have every interest in that the investigation is done well and that all the hypotheses are examined”. In October 2016, three people, two SNCF employees and one from Systra, were indicted for manslaughter and unintentional injury, and placed under judicial supervision. In December 2017, SNCF and Systra were in turn indicted, then the subsidiary SNCF Réseau, in 2019.
For more than two years, the civil parties have not been received by the judges. Gérard Chemla, lawyer for most of the families of victims, regrets the lack of more regular exchanges with the investigating magistrates. “I think the least you can do is keep victims informed of what the experts are saying. My expectation is that a consultation will be held soon. “